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FDE directed to study socio-economic backgrounds of out-of-school children

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has been directed to conduct a study into the socio-economic background of the over 11,000 out-of-school children identified for enrolment as most of these children live in the capital’s rural areas.

Chairing a meeting on out-of-school children in Islamabad, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood directed FDE to initiate the process of admitting the children into schools.

FDE Director General Ali Ahmed Kharal gave the minister a presentation regarding the recent survey in which the FDE’s team identified 11,029 out-of-school children, 85pc of whom are from rural areas including Nilor, Tarnol and Bhara Kahu.

11,000 children were identified for enrolment in schools in Islamabad

The meeting was told that out-of-school children were divided into four age groups and that 4,301 have been identified in the five to eight-year-old group.

The FDE DG said these students will be enrolled in mainstream educational institutions and that they will need 107 classrooms and 161 teachers.

FDE documents say additional budgetary allocations are also needed for the programme.

There are 1,616 students in the eight to 10-year-old group who have been identified and who will be enrolled in class five after an accelerated learning program (ALP) of one or two years.

There are 2,421 out-of-school children in the 10 to 12-year-old group who have been identified and who will be inducted in ALP and will be offered regular admission in class six after they pass class five.

Some 2,691 children have been identified in the 12 to 16 age group who will be asked to appear in primary level exams after attending ALP and will then be offered technical education.

The meeting was told that there is need for over 270 classrooms and over 400 teachers for accommodating the out-of-school children.

According to FDE data shared with the meeting, there are 3,200 out-of-school children in Nilore, 1,237 in Sihala, 998 in Urban-I, 740 in Urban-II and 2,054 in Bhara Kahu.

Sources said that the education minister appreciated FDE’s efforts in the out-of-school issue and directed the DG to take steps for enrolling these students.

“Some 2,500 teachers took part in the exercise of identifying out-of-school children. We are exploring various options such as involving the private sector in enrolling all children,” the FDE DG told Dawn.

He said a proposal for providing financial assistance to parents of out-of-school children through the Benazir Income Support Program is also under consideration. Mr Kharal said the directorate has proposed the provision of school bags, stationary and uniforms for the children as well.

Joint Education Advisor Rafiq Tahir told Dawn that a proposal for providing the children with free lunch was also made.

“We are meeting with the World Food Program in this regard,” he said, adding that the minister had directed FDE to launch the program and make it successful so it can be replicated in the provinces as well.

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